The Helpful Elves

August Kopisch; Illustrated by Beatrice Braun-Fock

Out of print

Quick Look

  • A classic picture book based on a poem by August Kopisch.
  • Printed on thick, quality paper, it features delightful cut-out sections of the elves' heads on each page.

The helpful elves do all the work for the lazy people of Cologne. Until one day the tailor's wife becomes curious . . .

215 x 270 mm
Floris Books
Picture Books
colour illustrations
Age Range:
From 3 to 6 years
32 pages
Publication date:
22 Sep 2011


When the lazy people of Cologne go to sleep, the helpful elves do all their work. They measure and saw for the carpenter, knead and mix for the baker, carve and chop for the butcher, taste and pour for the winemaker, and snip and sew for the tailor. But no one ever sees them. Until one day the tailor's wife becomes curious ...

This classic picture book is based on a poem by August Kopisch (1799-1853), who specialised in re-telling popular legends. It is brought to life with humorous illustrations by Beatrice Braun-Fock (1898-1973). Printed on thick, quality paper, it features delightful cut-out sections on each page.


'Based on a well-known poem by Kopisch (1799-1853) and illustrated in muted tones by Braun-Fock (1898-1973), the charm of this tale lies in the tiny elf tabs found at the top of each page. Together in a row, 10 elves are perched expectantly -- each made distinct with a different smile or a long white beard -- forming a miniature audience to watch readers. One can almost hear them gleefully giggling at the comeuppance they know is coming at the end.
An enchanting, if abrupt, piece of German lore brought to a new audience. The lesson, curiosity killed the cat, rings true in all cultures.'
-- Kirkus Book Reviews

'For vintage charm this German folk tale, aimed (approximately) at four to seven-year olds, is hard to beat. Featuring nostalgic, early twentieth century illustrations by Beatrice Braun-Fock.'
-- Melissa McClements,

'This book is a retro delight ... Lined up at the top of each page is a seated elf (in the form of cut-out tabs of sorts), staring impishly at either us, the readers, or one antoher; at the opening of the book, they are all lined up there, ready for us to read. As you keep reading and turning pages, they leave. It's a delight for the youngest of children (and, ahem, nearly-40-year-olds).'
-- Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

'Quality paper and ingenious die-cutting make this a pleasing book to handle, the trades portrayed are charmingly traditional, and the elves themselves are cheeky-sweet.'
-- Armadillo


August Kopisch (1799–1853) specialised in re-telling popular legends.

Beatrice Braun-Fock (1898–1973) illustrated over 50 children's picture books between 1919 and 1960.

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